The University of Michigan chapter of Delta Sigma Phi had been planning an ancient Egyptian-themed frat party for the elite school's Welcome Week festivities.
According to a screenshot of the frat's Facebook page, the party — titled "The Nile" and set for Sept. 1 — would "honor our Egyptian roots" and "celebrate our newly built pyramid." Revelers just needed to dress up like "a mummy, Cleopatra or King Tut it doesn’t matter to us. Get your best ancient Egyptian robe and headdress and be ready to party in the desert. Be careful though, it's going to get HOT."
Well, Egyptian Student Association President Yasmeen Afifi caught wind of the advertisement and tweeted a screenshot of it accompanied by a perturbed message: "white umich back on their bulls**t & culture appropriation can't wait!!!"
She added a lengthy Facebook post Sunday calling out the "white" fraternity and characterizing the party as "extremely offensive and disrespectful. It is more saddening to see students from the top public university in the United States engaging in these ignorant stereotypes. My Egyptian roots are far more significant than a simple costume or a lame party. I take pride in the grandeur of my people’s legacy and will not allow my culture to be appropriated for your entertainment."
It’s unfortunate and pathetic that they lack the creativity to throw a fun party without being at the expense of another culture and people. This is much larger than just a party; it is the privilege that led this frat to think this was remotely okay that needs to be analyzed. White people need to cognizant of their identity and their role throughout history. White people have invaded, stolen, erased, and defaced numerous ancient Egyptian artifacts, symbols and temples in attempt to claim one of the greatest civilizations as their own. Europeans have worked so diligently to eliminate all traces of African facial features by lightening skin colors of painted relics inside tombs and temples. Western invasion has also fostered colorism still seen today within the Egyptian and African communities, to the point where beauty concepts and our mentality have been colonized. You constantly erase our identities by casting only white characters to portray ancient Egyptians (as if they could last in desert climate). Ancient Egypt is a classical African civilization that will be recognized as such.
Delta Sigma released a statement on Facebook apologizing for its party idea, saying it came from the “connection between the values and themes of Ancient Egypt and the national organization of Delta Sigma Phi.”
But when the fraternity heard the party was "seen as appropriating Egyptian culture, the event was immediately cancelled," the statement added.
“It would never be the intention to make anyone from any group, especially a group that has been the victim of oppression for many generations, feel unwelcome or uncomfortable," the letter added, noting Delta Sigma Phi members "completely accept all responsibility for this ordeal."
The plan, the letter said, is to "begin an education effort to teach ourselves how our actions have an effect on people from a wide variety of backgrounds. This situation will serve as a very teachable moment for every Brother of our chapter by beginning a very important dialogue with those affected.”
But Afifi told the Michigan Daily, the school paper, that the frat's apology was "very cliche and made the issue feel very surface level. Students need to understand this issue surpasses a themed party — it's the impact of years of white washing Egyptian culture, erasing our identities, and Orientalism."
Therefore, she said the frat agreed to rework the apology.
Meanwhile, the campus chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are standing with Afifi and the Egyptian Students Association:
We stand w/ the ESA & support them in their fight for their rich ancestry to be just as valid as our counterparts.— NAACP U-M Chapter (@NAACP U-M Chapter)1503258546.0
This isn't the first time fraternities have felt the heat for this sort of thing. Several months ago, Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Chicago held a construction-worker themed party that had some students accusing the frat of racism. In 2015, Yale University's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was accused of holding a Halloween party for “white girls only.”
(H/T: The Daily Wire)